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DanielJamesCross's picture

Welcome To Jacksonville

By DanielJamesCross in Arrest Us

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The sole resident of a rural American town, a gentleman encounters an outsider, which turns his world upside down.


Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 12, 2014 - 2:20am

I like this, but I almost wish you'd toned down the description and written it in an even simpler style, to match the narrator. It spirals out of control nicely though. Soften up the twist a bit and ramp up the hick writing and this will be excellent, in my opinion.

jorjon21's picture
jorjon21 from Wisconsin is reading Shotgun Lovesongs June 14, 2014 - 8:21am

I enjoyed the story, but the transition between the story and the main characters reminisces of what his pa taught him were a little rough.  Good story though.

Angelia Relyea's picture
Angelia Relyea June 17, 2014 - 4:20pm

I really enjoyed the way it spirals out of control. It didn't feel forced at all.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 23, 2014 - 7:20am

I have to say that from your descriptions and your voice I would never have twigged you for a fellow Berkshire resident. I was surprised when I clicked on your bio.

There’s some good stuff here. The central premise is promising, and while it doesn’t all work, it feels like it would do with a little more TLC. Your protagonist is a good one, and I do like these loner characters. He’s been so long without other human contact, but crucially he is not stupid. Despite his belief that his parents are stars, he’s not even particularly naïve. Protecting his barrel is proof enough of that.

There are some inconsistencies through the story though. First off, the phone. This one bugged me when reading through for the first time. Supposedly the protagonist has no idea what a phone is, because you have him pick up a “plastic device”. Yet he knows enough to hold it to his ear and say hello? I was expecting that call to be important. There is perhaps a hint that it is this call that brings the girl to the town, but I can’t see that it would make any difference if you dropped that part.

It is the details that sometimes jolt me when reading. At first I was wondering why she would stay the night, or why he would assume she would want to stay the night, rather than turning back and going to the city. Given her ulterior motive for being there, and his lack of understanding of the modern world, I guess it does make sense. For breakfast though you have her eating stale bread, and I couldn’t help but wonder where that came from. He didn’t strike me as the baking type, and neither is there a baker in the town.

From the moment you hint that he’s killed her, to the end, suddenly the pace really picks up. It’s on the borderline of being a little too crazy. It is a little puzzling as well. Here is a guy who lives in an abandoned town, hunting and panning for gold. He is so unused to human contact that “it had been a long while since I’d even breathed the same air as another human”. Yet the sheriff has been accepting bribes for the last 30 years, so surely they must have had contact, especially as it has been fifteen to twenty years since his pa died. Also, why collect all that gold if it is just going to sit in a barrel?

I’d be tempted to make a few amendments on your next run. Have him be attracted to the woman. It would make more of the Sheriff telling him he can keep her. He’s seen very few people in the last couple of decades, and certainly no women. You can play off those urges that way, especially if you stretch out the reason why she is there. Other than that, a simple sweep of the inconsistencies will make a difference. You have the voice and the flow already, so you aren’t far away at all.

DanielJamesCross's picture
DanielJamesCross from Reading, England is reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy July 21, 2014 - 1:02pm

Thanks for the thorough feedback, Adam. I agree with all your points. I had to amend the story a few times to try to have it make sense, but as you rightly point out, there are some inconsistencies.

The idea of the phone call was supposed to be the development company checking to see if anyone still lived in the town. I did wrestle with the idea of him knowing how a phone worked, but I hoped that if I was in his position, being a bright but lonesome man, I could have sussed it out.

The reason he spends his life panning for gold without a reason to is because he feels that he's supposed to do it. The residents left the town when gold dried up, but his father stayed because he believed gold was still in the area and taught his son how to find it. So Jackson kind of felt it was up to him to make his father proud.

And the bit about the bribes - I was alluding to his father paying the previous bribes, but I can see how this could be confusing. I wrote a few ideas for an ending and felt this was the best one I had, however I think I did rush it.

I'm glad the voice came out believable!

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday June 23, 2014 - 9:13am

This was a fun one to read.  I liked Weaver's voice.  The only thing in his speech that stood out was when he said 'I don't know what you're alluding to.'  It sounded a little above his vocabulary level.  Kind of a small issue, but at a critical time it was jarring.  I was a little unclear about how he died at the end, but I really enjoyed the last line.  Overall solid effort.  Best of Luck.

Joe P's picture
Joe P from Brainerd, MN is reading Wheel of Time June 26, 2014 - 9:31pm

I really like this story. It took a little while to get to the main conflict(he's protecting his small town and his gold) but once we were there the pace picked up nicely and brought me through to the end. Liked the ending too. I always love implied endings, so nice job with that. 

I did an LBL but nearly all my comments and deeper level style-related comments. I didn't notice any grammar that took me out of the story. You have a strong sense of voice and you executed it nicely.

I forgot about the telephone scene. That portion didn't really tie in to anything else and can probably be deleted. I get that if he's been isolated for the past fifteen years he may have no idea what a cell phone is, but it doesn't add much to the story and maybe confuse readers.

Overall, this is one of my more favorite stories I've found in the contest. Keep up the good work and good luck!

kevymetal's picture
kevymetal from Halifax, NS July 7, 2014 - 4:11pm

I dug it. I liked the ghost town, his isolation, his hick-ishness, and his ability to fend for himself, like a one-man western plunk down in the middle of modern-day. You write in a way that makes a reader want to keep reading. If I could improve anything, I'd make Jacksonville more of a character: more descriptions of the buildings, their histories, how they look now. And I might, as others have suggested, slow the ending way, way down. You could've had the girl be the only character, for example, other than the protagonist, and slowly work her way toward discovering his gold, and then find herself waking up on a riverbank next to a similarly-hogtied police officer. As it stands, the one-two-three of her arrival, the cop's arrival, and the two local, bribe-happy officers happens pretty rapidly. The narrator has a slow-and-easy style, as does your writing, and that seems like the best approach to take with something like this. Still, great job. I liked it a lot.

DanielJamesCross's picture
DanielJamesCross from Reading, England is reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy July 21, 2014 - 1:05pm

Thanks for the kind words! I agree with your suggestion. I did have trouble finding a way to tie up the end, which probably shows in the rushed pacing.

DanielJamesCross's picture
DanielJamesCross from Reading, England is reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy July 21, 2014 - 1:11pm

Thanks for the positive criticisms, people! You've given me a lot to think about on my next venture.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 28, 2014 - 11:13pm

Good story. I understand that this man is supposed to be detached from society, but I was surprised by his perplexion with a car. He had obviously seen cars before.The cops having come there before and his knowing the sound of cars approaching proves this. I can understand not knowing how it works but to call it a contraption that his father had to tell him about doesn't make sense. I'm interested in knowing what he meant to do with his captives, but I also don't mind an open end. I think you you did a good job with characterization voice and tone.